The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants
Member | Established: 1971 | Member since 1978
The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), established in 1971, regulates its accountancy profession in accordance with the BICA Act of 2015 (the Act). The Act empowers the BICA, among other responsibilities, to define professional accountants; establish the requirements for entry into the profession; promote the best standards of practice in financial reporting and in the expression of professional opinions; establish ethical requirements; carry out investigation and disciplinary processes for its members, as well as quality assurance reviews for licensees; and register and license professionals wishing to practice accountancy.
The BICA has two membership categories: General Members and Licensed Practitioners. General Members may use the designation of Chartered Accountant. Licensed Practitioners have the legal authority to sign audit reports on financial statements and are required to be BICA members.
The BICA does not have its own qualification program and accepts candidates from the following certifying bodies as specified in the Act:
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA);
- Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada);
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); and
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
The BICA is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC).
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
In line with The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act of 2015 (the Act), the BICA adopted a quality assurance (QA) review system that is in line with SMO 1 requirements and began Practice Monitoring through a tripartite contract with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). The review visits began during Spring of 2016 following the enactment of the Regulations.
Leading up to the enactment of the Regulations, BICA proactively organized seminars and workshops to support its members. For example, a Practice Monitoring/Peer Review Update and Workshop was held on March 17 and 18, 2016 in Nassau and Freeport, respectively, to assist in preparing practicing Members and Firms for the commencement of audit monitoring. BICA also held a Practice Monitoring Committee Update Seminar, on June 25, 2018, at the Melia Resort, New Providence. Presentations were made by BICA’s Practice Monitoring Committee Chair, a Senior Practice Reviewer of the ACCA and the AICPA Chair.
Lastly, the BICA disseminated information to its members on the QA review system mechanism, and established guidelines in collaboration with the ACCA and ICAC.
The BICA is encouraged to establish an ongoing process that ensures continued alignment with SMO 1 requirements. Furthermore, the new suite of Quality Management standards will become effective in 2021-22 and will require significant change management for regulators and firms. To prepare auditors in the jurisdiction for the implementation of the standards, the BICA is encouraged to closely follow the developments and publication of implementation support materials, raise awareness of its members about the forthcoming change, and update its educational programming to ensure that its members are sufficiently prepared for the application of the standards once they become effective.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
Prior to the adoption of the BICA Act 2015, the BICA had developed different strategies to modify its qualification requirements to incorporate IESs. The BICA promoted the adoption of regulations that would be necessary to achieve alignment with the IESs. At the same time, the BICA has worked to incorporate international best practices in the areas for which it has direct responsibility, such as continuing professional development (CPD). As such, the BICA has established a mandatory CPD requirement for its members, with a system in place to monitor and enforce compliance. Members of the Institute are required to complete 120 hours of CPD over a three-year reporting period, or 40 hours per calendar year. Of these 40 hours, a minimum of 20 must be verifiable hours. The input versus the output-based approach have been clearly defined, as well as the requirements regarding each category. Between 2016-2021, mandatory CPD has been defined for members performing audits and tax related services since Value Added Tax (VAT) has been implemented in The Bahamas.
The BICA reports to assess applicants who are not members of the prescribed bodies (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) to ensure fulfillment of IESs.
Lastly, the BICA submits comments on IAESB Exposure Drafts via the regional Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean.
The BICA is encouraged to consider plans for adopting a process for assessing the competencies of members in local tax and business law. Furthermore, the BICA is also encouraged to conduct a comprehensive review of the existing educational requirements for professional accountants in the jurisdiction against those of revised 2019 IES. Revised requirements of the IES 2, 3, 4 and 8 are effective as of 2021. The revisions to these standards reflect the increasing demand for accountants skilled in information and communications technologies and place further emphasis on the professional skepticism skills and behaviors. These apply to both aspiring and professional accountants.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
Having adopted ISA by reference to be applied in all audits, the BICA supports its members with the implementation of the standards by providing training, disseminating information on new and modified IAASB pronouncements, and including standard-related topics in its continuing professional development activities.
The BICA has ongoing processes to adopt new and revised standards and to submit comments on IAASB Exposure Drafts.
BICA is encouraged to comment on the Proposed International Standard on Auditing for Audits of Financial Statements of Less Complex Entities (ISA for LCE) Exposure Draft (due January 31, 2022).
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
With the passage of the BICA Act of 2015, the BICA has direct responsibility for setting ethical requirements and is authorized to incorporate revisions and amendments to its Code of Ethics. However, even before the adoption of the BICA Act, BICA members were required to adhere to the 2013 IESBA Code of Ethics. As of the date of this assessment, the 2018 International Code of Ethics is applicable in the jurisdiction.
The BICA has developed workshops and training activities to promote the effective implementation of the IESBA Code of Ethics, has included ethics topics in its continuing professional development activities, and disseminates information on the updates of the IESBA Code via its website and newsletter. In addition, the BICA monitors compliance with ethical requirements through its investigative and disciplinary system.
The 2020 Handbook of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants is now available and includes the following changes: Revisions to Part 4B of the Code to reflect terms and concepts used in the IAASB's International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000 (Revised). Revised Part 4B and the related conforming amendments to the Glossary came into effect in June 2021. Revisions to promote the role and mindset expected of professional accountants. These revisions are to Sections 100, 110, 120, 220 and the Glossary to the Code and will come into effect in December 2021. These changes can be accessed using the IESBA eCode and BICA is encouraged to raise awareness of the changes among its membership and update training workshops to ensure that its members are sufficiently prepared for the application of the standards once they become effective.
The BICA is encouraged to consider participating in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on IESBA Exposure Drafts and other IESBA consultative papers.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The BICA has no responsibility for the adoption of public sector accounting standards, which is under the mandate of the Ministry of Finance. Nevertheless, it has been promoting the adoption of IPSASs to the Ministry of Finance since 2011. As part of these efforts, the BICA holds meetings on an annual basis with the Auditor General and key government ministries to continue raising awareness about IPSASs. The BICA has also been involved in meetings with the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre’s consultant who is responsible for the IPSAS technical assistance program.
In addition, the BICA has included IPSAS topics in its continuing professional development activities and training to support member understanding of the standards. It also distributes information on recent developments and revisions issued by the IPSASB to entities responsible for the adoption of IPSAS as well as its members.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
As part of its responsibilities outlined in the BICA Act of 2015, the BICA has implemented and operationalized an investigative and disciplinary (I&D) system that is in line with all revised SMO 6 requirements. The BICA was proactive in working with the government to amend the legislation that has aligned the I&D requirements in The Bahamas with those of SMO 6. In addition, the BICA launched an education campaign to inform the public about the revised I&D process.
The BICA also provides information and guidance to its members through its website, publications, and continuing professional development activities.
The BICA is encouraged to establish an ongoing process that ensures continued alignment with SMO 6 requirements.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
Having adopted IFRS by reference, the BICA supports its members with the implementation of the standards through conducting technical workshops. To this effect, the BICA has increased the number of hours in its continuing professional development system dedicated to IFRS. It distributes information on new and modified IASB pronouncements to its members and maintains a program for responding to IASB Exposure Drafts in collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean.
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